Recall bias, which can occur when data about prior habits and exposures are collected from study participants using questionnaires administered after diagnosis of a disease in some of the participants. It is possible that study participants who have brain tumors may remember their cell phone use differently from individuals without brain tumors. Many epidemiologic studies of cell phone use and brain cancer risk lack verifiable data about the total amount of cell phone use over time. In addition, people who develop a brain tumor may have a tendency to recall cell phone use mostly on the same side of the head where their tumor was found, regardless of whether they actually used their phone on that side of the head a lot or only a little.
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) released a fact sheet about these issues, shortly after the IARC re-classification, entitled "Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile phones". The fact sheet points to the findings of the IARC and describes some of the known short-term and long-term effects of phone use, but ultimately, it lands on the side of where the most conclusive evidence exists:
"Possibly carcinogenic" was a phrase that may media outlets pulled out of the release, but it's a dangerous takeaway for consumers, out of context. "Possibly carcinogenic to humans", or group 2B, is a sub-classification or monograph, applied to agents by the IARC. Other agents (or items of everyday life) in Group 2B include pickled vegetables, lead and Potassium bromate — an oxidising additive common in flour. In all, there are 272 agents listed as possibly carcinogenic.
But scientists disagree on how real—or how serious—these risks really are, and studies have not established any definitive links between health problems and radiofrequency (RF) energy, the type of radiation emitted by cell phones. “This document is intended to provide guidance for people who want to reduce their own and their families’ exposure to RF energy from cell phones,” the guidelines state, “despite this uncertainty.”
What the study showed: Self-reported cell phone use was not associated with an increased risk of glioma, meningioma, or non-central nervous system tumors. Although the original published findings reported an association with an increased risk of acoustic neuroma (14), this association disappeared after additional years of follow-up of the cohort (15).
Specifically, we looked for studies that measured rates of acoustic neuromas, gliomas, meningiomas, and thyroid cancers. We also narrowed our search to studies that looked at the effect of radio-frequency radiation originating from an actual cellphone, rather than experimental equipment. We did this because we wanted evidence that could apply to real life, not specific laboratory settings or hypothetical outcomes.
There is a degree of controversy surrounding the implications of cell phone radiation, and what it means to our health. Some research has suggested that the type of radio frequencies used by cell phones can speed up the progression of cancer in laboratory test animals, but it has proven difficult to replicate these results. It is known that radiation from cell phones can affect pacemakers, but the main concern is related to the fact that most cell phone users hold the phone against their ear. If significant levels of radiation enter the tissues of the head in this way over time, some worry that this can increase the likelihood of brain tumors and related conditions.
I really want to caution you to be careful of any "expert" or EMF blogger recommending anti-radiation filtering cases, stickers that attach to the phone or necklaces to "ward off" EMF. I get it, when I first realized 25 years ago that I was sensitive to electromagnetic energy and then later, when I understood that without a doubt, man made electromagnetic radiation has a biological effect on my body, I wanted an easy fix. I tried the shielding materials and cases and I just did not feel any better. Then I bought meters to see if the energy changed and I actually noticed what the California Department of Health now says and it's what the FTC and FCC post warnings about: "Some shielding materials can make exposures worse". So please, be careful and read on for what you can do to avoid electromagnetic radiation exposure.
Your phone sends radiofrequency, or RF, waves from its antenna to nearby cell towers, and receives RF waves to its antenna from cell towers when you make a call or text or use data. The frequency of a cell phone’s RF waves falls between those emitted by FM radios and those from microwave ovens, all of which are considered “non-ionizing” forms of radiation. That means that—unlike radiation from a nuclear explosion, a CT scan, or a standard X-ray—the radiation from your phone does not carry enough energy to directly break or alter your DNA, which is one way that cancer can occur. (FM radios and microwaves don’t raise alarms, in part because they aren’t held close to your head when in use and because microwave ovens have shielding that offers protection.)
So what do you do when you need a wireless radiation emitting device but you want to limit the exposure to the people? Perhaps you use a wireless baby monitor, have a cordless phone base station, or you sleep with your cell phone on your nightstand. Maybe there is a wifi router right next to you at work or school. RadiaFence is the answer. It’s a free-standing, semi-transparent microwave barrier that you can put almost anywhere you need. It blocks most of the radiation emitted in one direction by “casting a shadow” (typically 70-90% reduction), while still allowing the wireless device to work. Like sitting in the shade on a sunny day. Portable, inexpensive, attractive. And it couldn’t be easier to use. If you like, you can add a decorative photo or warning sign to change the appearance. Available in 5 styles. Pick the sizes which meet your needs. Style may differ from images.
The guidelines created a measure of the rate that body tissue absorbs radiation during cell phone use called the specific absorption rate (SAR). The SAR for cell phone radiation was set at a maximum of 1.6 watts of energy absorbed per kilogram of body weight. The limit was set due to the thermal effects of cell phone radiation (all RF radiation can heat human body tissue at high enough levels) - it was not set to mitigate other biological effects cell phone radiation might have such as DNA damage or cancer.
Unfortunately, regulatory boards do not require third-party phone accessory manufacturers to consider how their product will work in tandem with the smartphone. Neither do governments require smartphone manufacturers to conduct extensive research on whether their SAR will still meet the FCC’s allowable radiation exposure limits when their devices are using a phone case or other 3rd party accessories.
More often power off your phone or set it to airplane mode with Wi-Fi OFF and Bluetooth OFF. Even in standby mode, your phone emits RF energy because it is constantly searching for service or new messages. If you do not need your cell phone, simply power it off. This also applies to all other wireless devices whereby the Wi-Fi antennas can be powered off. Wi-Fi enabled laptops, tablets and other wireless devices (such as gaming devices) are always transmitting even if you are not using them, so remember to power them off.
The owner of a damaged case are always encouraged send it in for a replacement and when available a 2nd generation final production case is always sent. As demand increases for a particular color and model — silicon cases are made with RF Safe’s peel-n-shield embedded inside the flip cover. The 2nd Gen cover also includes room for a credit card but this is discouraged because excessive conductive RFID material that pushes the shielding at an angle from a phones surface can compromise shielding effectiveness.
If you want to measure the EMF radiation from your own phone, and know if EMF protection products are working, you should get a quality EMF meter. I highly recommend the new TriField TF2 (read my review) as it’s simple to use, lasts forever, is extremely accurate, and measures all three types of EMF radiation. If you’re looking for a low-cost EMF meter I really like the Meterk (read my review).
A few epidemiology studies have reported higher rates of tumors inside the skull among people who use cell phones heavily for 10 years or more. Of particular concern are benign Schwann cell tumors called acoustic neuromas, which affect nerve cells connecting the inner ear with structures inside the brain. These growths can in some instances progress to malignant cancer with time. But other studies have found no evidence of acoustic neuromas or brain tumors in heavy cell phone users.
But there is also some ambiguity about cellphone radiation’s health effects. As Dr. John Bucher, a senior scientist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and a co-author of the NIH studies, told me, “[Our results] go against the notion that non-ionizing radiation is completely harmless.” In other words, he’s found that the type of radiation cellphones give off could cause biological changes, like promoting tumors, at least in animals.
An analysis of data from NCI's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program evaluated trends in cancer incidence in the United States. This analysis found no increase in the incidence of brain or other central nervous system cancers between 1992 and 2006, despite the dramatic increase in cell phone use in this country during that time (22).